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October 12, 2019

Ramona Grasslands - Survey Road 97

Old Survey Road 97 Trail is located in the northwest corner of the Ramona Grasslands County Preserve.  The trail follows the historic route that early travelers used between Escondido and Santa Ysabel.  

This section of the preserve is home to the endangered Golden Eagle and is only open on weekends during mid-August to mid-November, the non-nesting season.

A permit is required for each person who wishes to hike the trail.  A short quiz must be completed with a score of 100% to receive a permit.

Park rangers will login permit holders at the trailhead.

The rangers also have a ‘touch table’ displaying flora and fauna typical of the preserve.

The trail starts out as an easy walk between the property of the Ramona Water District and a local ranch.

The ranch side of the trail is more interesting.  The cattle here pretty much see very few people as the trail is open for just the 12 weekends.

The trail drops down a slight incline just past a grove of coastal oaks, with their inviting shade.

The Santa Maria River flows through the Ramona Grasslands which helps give it such great diversity. Remnants of an old pumping station and home are visible from the trail.

Fran is the first to spot something out of place high on a distant rock pile.

I thought it was a bush.  But another hiker with a massive telephoto confirms it is the rare and elusive golden eagle.
Here he is again:

and then he’s off behind the hill, no inflight pictures ….

The trail leads on with views in every direction as it winds its way up and down the hills, nearly 1000 feet will be given or taken with the various elevation changes.

Of course the eagle was a great sighting, even at that distance.  The most common today we saw lots of starlings.

A nice view of Mt Woodson near the end of the trail.  Potato Chip Rock should be in this photo but I do not see it.

A few late season wildflowers are still hanging in there.  But nearly all are spent.

The only shade on the trail is back at the oak grove near the trailhead.  We take advantage of the picnic table there to get out of the sun for a bit.

The trail will be closed once the 50 hiker daily limit is reached.  Since we had other plans for Sunday we went up early on Saturday.  This is indeed the very best time to go!  The number of critter tracks and scat on the trail was amazing: deer, cats, coyote, rat, raccoon, quail …


  1. A perfect way to protect this area. Nice eagle sighting.

    1. I'm glad we took advantage of this window to experience the trail. The eagle certainly made it a special day!

  2. looks like a wonderful trail to hike thanks for taking us along.

    1. It was a nice day to be on a new-to-us trail

  3. Great opportunity to visit an area that few get to hike. Definitely a jackpot day seeing the Golden Eagle.

    1. I would like to have the eagle in flight, but at least we can say we saw one.

  4. You always find the coolest places to go Jeff! What a great opportunity to visit a place not that many folks can go to and top that off with an Eagle sighting...makes for a fun morning!

    1. It was an awesome morning! if you're here when the trail is open early Saturday had lots of critter tracks to view. You're good at that.


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